File photo of PM Narendra Modi | PTI Photo/Manvender VashistText Size: A- A+

Modi wrote the bestselling book ‘Exam Warriors’, but now wants questions screened before his conferences.

At a recent interaction with BJP party workers from Puducherry via video conferencing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced a tough question on the tax burden plaguing the middle-class. Neither did Modi like the question, nor did he expect it. The video, therefore, went viral. The only explanation for this can be that the man who sold Modi the question paper the previous night had promised that a question on taxes would not appear.

Now, instead of answering questions in a better manner, Modi has decided to ban unscripted questions from these party interactions altogether. BJP members have been asked to shoot a video of their question and send it 48 hours ahead of a scheduled interaction with the PM. These questions will be screened by party workers and then picked for Modi to answer. This is borderline shameful considering that Modi is no ordinary PM. Most of us forget that he is the author of the #1 bestseller Exam Warriors.

Friends, this man has written a book that revolves around the concept of answering tough questions to get ahead in life. And now, he has a problem taking questions. What would the students think of you, Modiji?

Also read: In Madhya Pradesh, Narendra Modi ko gussa kyon aata hai

All this was set off by the embarrassment at the Puducherry meeting where the question went something like, “Honourable Prime Minister… I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to you. My question is the work that you are doing to change the country is undoubtedly a good step but the middle sections of people are of the opinion that your government is only busy collecting tax in all manner and in all ways. They did not get the relaxation they were hoping for in the IT sector, loan processing procedure and bank transaction fees and penalty. It is my request that you take care of the middle class, which is the root of your party, like the way you take care while collecting tax from them. Thank you sir.”

Modi was so dumbfounded by the question that, for a second, he looked like a sad Vinod Kambli contemplating life choices and trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

All Modi could do was to come to a profound conclusion that since the guy was a trader, he wanted to talk business. Like what? And then he froze, hoping the earth would split into two and just gobble him up. When that didn’t happen, he passed another random statement about how he will take care of the people. Then, he took a longer pause and just uttered the words, “Chaliye, Puducherry ko wanakkam”. You know someone has really run out of ideas when cultural appropriation becomes their go-to punchline. Imagine what would happen, Modiji, when the IT department sends notices to all South Indians for not filing their income tax, and the only reply they get is “Kem chho” written in font size 84 across an A4 paper.

Also read: Chants of Bharat Mata and choreographed children: How Modi gave exam advice

Modi hasn’t held a single press conference or taken open questions in the last four and a half years. But that ship has sailed, it’s not a big deal anymore. However, this episode further reaffirms my feelings in the popular belief that our PM doesn’t have a college degree. Because if you went to an Indian college, the least you would learn is how to fudge your way through questions which you skipped preparing for. If my education has taught me one thing, it is to confidently repeat 75 per cent of the question that is posed to you as is, until you can use the word “because”. “The government is only busy collecting tax in all manner and in all ways from the middle-class, and they do not get the relaxation they were hoping for in IT sector, loan processing procedure and bank transaction fees and penalty because…”

This method succeeds in boring the person who posed the question enough to make them automatically lose interest in the answer, post “because”. You can literally get away with saying anything. Trust me, because I have a degree in industrial engineering by just writing zoological names of monkeys in a thermodynamics paper.

Modi could have at least done what contestants at the Miss India pageant do during the Q&A round. To buy time to think of something that could pass off as an answer, they start appreciating the question first. And then, talk about India’s population. “First, I want to thank the member for posing such a thought-provoking question. As you know, India is a vast country of over a billion people, with over a thousand dialects and thousands of taxes. And I’m proud of our rich culture and taxes… I would like to thank my tax-paying parents, tax-paying teachers and you, the tax-paying audience.”

This at least shows intent, and in my book, you would have gotten marks for trying. Or like they say in school, “marks for steps”.

What if students across India took a leaf out of their beloved PM’s latest diktat, and started demanding that teachers shoot a video of the questions for the exam and submit it 48 hours in advance.

Imagine Priya ma’am submitting her questions: “Train A leaves the station five hours before Train B. If Train A is travelling at 50 km/hr, how long will it take for Train A to meet Train B?” The BJP’s first response to the question would be to change the name of Train A to Hanuman Express and Train B to Ram Janmabhoomi Express. And then, they would ban the question because guess what, both trains wouldn’t have made it out of the station anyway, since the whole problem is set in 2002.

I’m not saying Modi should hold open press conferences. That’s just too much to ask for. Let’s take baby steps instead. I just want him to put some effort while taking the whole country for a ride on Train B, while claiming that the ‘B’ in the train stands for bullet.